Updating my Windows Home Server 2011 installed on the HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer

• March 24, 2013

 

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Last July, 2012, I wrote about how I Installed Windows Home Server 2011 on a 60GB SSD in a HP ProLiant N40L MicroServer and using that as my primary home server. During Home Server Show 216 I talked about several updates I had done including how I replaced my 60GB OS drive with a larger 256GB OS drive, re-installed Windows Home Server 2011 onto the new OS drive, and then moved my Pool of data to the newly installed OS.

 

Replacing the OS Drive and doing a Fresh Install of Windows Home Server 2011

Last November, 2012, I wanted to use in a new project the Corsair Force 3 60GB SSD I had installed in my MicroServer (“Hal-9000”) earlier and replace it with a Crucial M4 256GB SSD, do a fresh install of Windows Home Server 2011 (“WHS-2011”), and “move” my DrivePool to the “fresh” OS. These are the steps I took:

1. Shut down WHS-2011 by shutting down Hal-9000.

2. Pulled all 5 of my 3TB Data Drives

3. I then removed the Corsair Force 3 60GB SSD OS Drive

4. I replaced the Corsair Force 3 60GB SSD OS Drive with a Crucial M4 256GB SSD OS Drive

5. I did a clean install of WHS-2011 onto the Crucial M4 256GB SSD OS Drive.

6. I reinstalled Stablebit DrivePool and Stablebit Scanner

7. I again Shut Down the Hal-9000

8. I reinstalled all 5 of my 3TB Data Drives

9. When I powered up Hal-9000 — StableBit DrivePool saw the previous Pool data folders and I saw DrivePool E: in my WHS-2011 DashBoard (“DashBoard”) but it did not see my Server Share Folders (“Folders”) in DrivePool E:

10. I used File explorer to view my folders in DrivePool E: and renamed each folder by adding an “A” to the end of the folder name (“foldersA”).

11. I went back to my DashBoard and moved all of my Folders to DrivePool E:. I then created in DrivePool E: those Folders that I had created before in addition to the Standard Folders supplied by WHS-2011. The Folders that I created or added to DrivePool E: — I enabled folder duplication.

12. I used File explorer to move the contents of foldersA to Folders. Which was nearly instantaneous.

13. I deleted the now empty foldersA

14. All of my data was once again visible to the DashBoard. When I turned on media sharing my media was available on the network. The one thing I didn’t save was my Client Backups from the previous install but that had been my intention not to save that.

15. I next re-installed the USB 3.0 drivers and re-attached a USB drive for server backup.

16. I next re-installed Allway Sync Pro.

17. Next re-install connector SW to Clients to be backed-up.

In my opinion the whole process went very quickly – the major time consumer was the actual clean installation of WHS-2011 but on an SSD that still went quickly and I ended up with a fresh install of my OS software.

While I do backup my WHS-2011 OS drive regularly and I do have cloning tools (Acronis True Image Home 2013) that I have used in the past to clone OS drives it was nice to confirm that it was not only possible — but easy — to upgrade my OS drive and do a fresh install of my OS with my DrivePool data safe and secure.

Clearly, where this could be really useful in providing an easy upgrade path to move my DrivePool to an upgraded OS such as Windows Server 2012 Essentials in the future.

Of course, as I noted in HSS 216, I find out afterwards that StableBit has a utility called WSS TroubleShooter’s Folder Re-Share Feature that automates the above which means a rebuild will go that much faster!!

This utility will even work pulling an old WHS-2011 DrivePool into S2012E — haven’t tried that yet though.

 

Using Server Backup in WHS-2011 to Backup the OS Drive and Critical Data

While I use Allway Sync Pro to make a full copy of my Data on WHS-2011 to another server I also use Server Backup in WHS-2011 to make a backup copy of my “critical” data as well as my OS drive. StableBit discusses Using Server Backup to Backup the Pool in the User Manual.

Server Backup in WHS-2011 uses the .VHD file format to store the backup data which limits the total size of backup source data to a maximum of 2TB. Additionally, WHS-2011 Server Backup only supports volumes smaller than 2TB as the source which with all of my “source” drives being 3TB presented me with a problem. It is possible to at least remove the 2TB source volume restriction as outlined in a TechNET FAQ for Windows Home and SBS Backup.

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Figure 1 — Registry Edit needed to increase accepted Source Volume Size

Since I am using 3TB drives I chose to set “MaxVolumeSize” to something substantially larger than what I currently had and so set it at 16492674416640 which is obviously a ridiculous size but it work for me and if I was using RAID5 instead of DrivePool I might actually have a volume near that size.

Here is a table I built in Excel to calculate the number of bytes for different volume sizes:

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Figure 2– Calculation of number of bytes in TeraBytes

 

Using a Rocket 640L to Speed Up the OS Drive

I recently tried the Rocket 640L in my WHS-2011 MicroServer (Hal-9000) to see if it would be effective with my OS drive in the ODD bay area and thus freeing up my eSATA port to potentially be used in the future as a Port Multiplier.

The Rocket 640L worked well and provides 4 SATA III ports that could be used, if desired, in the MicroServer while freeing up the eSATA port with the Port Multiplier feature provided by the BIOS-MOD.

The performance of the Crucial M4 256GB SSD OS drive is now much closer to its advertised potential.

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Figure 3 — Performance of the Crucial M4 when attached to the SATA II Port in the MicroServer (before the R640L was installed)

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Figure 4 — Performance of Crucial M4 after being attached to Rocket 640L in MicroServer

 

References

Installing Windows Home Server 2011 on a SSD in a HP MicroServer N40L

Moving my Windows Home Server 2011 to the HP ProLiant N54L G7 MicroServer

Useful MicroServer Links & References

MicroServer Hardware Links

Windows Home Server 2011

Drive Extender Replacements for your Server on Home Server Show 216

HP MicroServer Discussed on The Home Server Show 212

Rocket 640L

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Category: Hard Drives, HP Microserver, Review, SSD, Windows Home Server, Windows Home Server 2011

Comments (5)

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  1. Tom says:

    Thanks Joe. I am new to the n40L, and your posts and those of others on this site have been invaluable.

    Quick question re: that Technet blurb about removing the 2TB limit on volume size: do I read that correctly to say that with the registry edit you can use > 2TB source volume, but you still can't backup more than 2TB from that volume? Has that been your experience? And if so, does that mean that you're using server backup with >2TB source volume but still having to select specifically what you are backing up (i.e. not the entire contents?).

  2. Joe_Miner says:

    Hi Tom! Thank you for the kind comments.

    In response to your questions:

    1. Yes, with the registry edit your source volume's can be > 2TB but your total backup cannot be greater than the 2TB VHD limit.

    2. Yes.

    3. Yes. I'm using server backup only on my "critical" file folders (I selected those specifically in the Server Backup Wizzard). I use Allway Sync to make a duplicate of everything (entire contents) to another device/machine on my home network. My "critical" file folders are also backed up to the cloud (i.e. CrashPlan Home+ )

    Check out the 3-2-1 strategy at http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Joe, very helpful!

      A quick look at Allway Sync leads me to believe that I could set it up to copy the server folders from the n40l to a NAS, did I read that correctly? Do you run Allway Sync on the n40l via a scheduled task?

  3. Joe_Miner says:

    I haven't tried Allway Sync with a NAS so no firsthand experience there on my part.

    PCDoc has some great info on Allway Sync http://pcdocsworld.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/allwa
    and a nice discussion on using it with SkyDrive http://homeservershow.com/skydriveallwaysync.html

    BTW, I've found this really useful: Check PCDoc's guide on integrating SkyDrive in WHS-2011 http://homeservershow.com/skydrive-on-whs-2011-on

  4. Joe_Miner says:

    Maria: Glad you found it useful. When you finish your update let us know in the Forums http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php? what you did and how you like it. Wishing you the best!

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